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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

06/17/14 WREDEN VS. TOWNSHIP OF LAFAYETTE, ET AL. (A-5422-12T3)


06/17/14
WREDEN VS. TOWNSHIP OF
LAFAYETTE, ET AL. (A-5422-12T3)
       In this appeal, we address the issue of whether a property owner's claim against a municipality for flooding allegedly caused by the municipality's construction of a retaining wall adjacent to the property was barred by N.J.S.A. 59:8-8b. Plaintiffs filed their notice of tort claim on January 28, 2008, but did not file their complaint against the municipality until June 28, 2011. Without making any findings as to whether plaintiffs' claim constituted a continuing tort or establishing the date of the accrual of plaintiffs' claim, the trial court granted the municipality's motion to dismiss because the complaint had not been filed within two years of the date of the notice of claim.
       Consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Russo Farms, Inc. v. Vineland Bd. of Educ., 144 N.J. 84 (1996), we reversed the trial court's determination and remanded for additional fact finding on the applicability of the continuing tort doctrine. We also reversed the trial court's ruling that plaintiffs were required to file a new notice of claim to seek damages against the municipality when the wall eventually collapsed and fell onto their property. We found that plaintiffs' notice of claim was sufficiently detailed to cover the wall's collapse. Finally, we reversed the trial court's decision to apply the entire controversy doctrine to deny plaintiffs' attempt to amend their complaint to add an inverse condemnation claim against the municipality.